It’s Good For You – Eat It Anyway

Sometimes strength training is like broccoli.

I remember the first President Bush (George H.W.) said his mother used to make him eat broccoli and now that he was President, he didn’t have to eat it anymore – or something like that.

For me, the Get Up is President Bush’s broccoli.

I HATE it.

With a passion.

Personally, not professionally. Professionally, I think everyone should be doing them, and most of my clients do them or variations or parts of the GU.

But honestly, I am sick and tired of hearing how wonderful they are – how beneficial they are – how transformative they are. When I was doing the Kettlebell Secrets calls, I thought I was going to have to kill one of my fellow instructors if I heard another answer to any given question as, “Swings and Get Ups.” (I think it’s obvious by now that I love double kettlebell work…) It even became a running joke as I received several emails about “Swings and Get Ups” being the answer to any question asked!

Look, Get Ups are fine, great, and dandy for my clients and everybody else in the world, but not for me.


My hips.

In that lunge position – any lunge position – my hips just don’t know where they should be. My pelvis goes one way, my hips go another, my lumbar spine a third. And it’s not even predictable between sides. Each hip wants to do it’s own thing. My crazy left hip, the one with all the damage, but rarely any symptoms, never wants to get into the posterior hip capsule. My right hip, well, it still hasn’t figured out what it’s doing. It drives me crazy and tests my patience to the limit.

(I can squat great and do pistols just dandy, but lunge, yeah, not-so-much…)

The only way I can justify doing Get Ups, is because I know they’re like broccoli – no matter how much I dislike them, they are one of the best things I can do for my body.

Last night, I only did the Get Up to the Lunge position. (I did something stupid on Tuesday and was paying for it all day yesterday and still paying for it today.) That was pretty much all I could do from a total body point of view. Sure, I could’ve done some upper body work, but that’s pretty boring…

But it got me thinking (maybe I should call this post, “A Tale of Two Dans”) about an article I read some years ago by Dan John. In it, he referenced legendary Olympic wrestler, Dan Gable, who said, “If something’s worth doing, then do it every day” – or something along those lines. (Interesting side note: I saw Coach Gable at the 1998 Midlands Wrestling Tournament where he was being honored. He could barely walk and his body was pretty twisted up. I later learned that he went on to have multiple joint replacements, including at least a hip and a knee…) Maybe that should be rephrased to “if anything is worth doing, and doesn’t cause pain or harm, then do it every day.”

So I got to thinking, what if I either start or finish my training sessions with different parts or even the whole Get Up? What would happen? Is it worth a shot?

The reason I ask is because my good friend, Jeff O’Connor, Sr RKC, and former National Champion Strongman, has virtually transformed his performance and function (he’s running again for the first time in 20 years do to a bum knee) from basically “owning” the Get Up. Might be something to that.

Well, I’ll get back to you on that. Because after yesterday’s little foray into the GU, I feel pretty darn, well, energized. (I was playing around with the 24kg, 32kg, and 40kg…)

(If you want a GREAT in depth resource on the Get Up, check out Brett Jones’ and Gray Cook’s, Kettlebells From the Ground Up: The Kalos Sthenos. In it these two performance fanatics break down the Get Up and all its wonderful benefits for not only strength, but here’s the weird thing: Health. Imagine that… Hmm…)

But again, I’m thinking, maybe the sign of training maturity (finally?) is doing what you know you should be doing, even though you can’t stomach it…

Maybe like broccoli?

11 comments… add one
  • Randy Hauer Oct 2, 2009 @ 18:20

    I hate the broccoli too, Geoff. For me it is the new high bridge and the extra wide pull through/sweep it requires…kills my chronically tender hip adductors.
    However, I have a tip for you on the lunge portion of the get up (if I may be so presumptuous)

    Don’t think of it as a lunge, but as a “scissor up”. Deep breath into the belly, tighten everything and push back with the front heel into the rear foot toes (which are diving forward “into the front heel”) and the torso will “squeeze/rise” up “between the legs”…entirely different than lunging forward..the glutes/hams/aB & aDductors/quads are all more uniformly recruited (or so it feels like).

  • Walter Oct 2, 2009 @ 19:23


    Sorry to hear about the hip problems. I suffer from some of that too.

    Just a thought, but have you tried focusing on body weight Bulgarian split squats and KB one leg deads? Is helping me.

    Really focus on controlling the movement and setting the joints in place. Film yourself from various angles and watch vid to see where you may be drifting out of alignment and then try again , focusing on keeping things lined up properly.

    Might help and then again…

    Best to you,


  • Joe Johnson Oct 2, 2009 @ 19:57

    I know you’ve talked al lot about your hip problems. I know you are also a Z-Health practitioner, which by the way as sparked my interest & I have purchased the R-Phase material. The thing I haven’t seen or heard is if you have done Gray Cook’s FMS. Do you have a pattern problem? This is one of the things I found with my shoulder. Since starting kettlebells I have upped my shoulder strength a lot. I can press a 70lb for up to 3 reps, which I know doesn’t seem like a lot for some but only a year ago a 53lb was a challenge. My point is I added strength on top of disfunction & as you might have guessed T-spine mobility is my bad. I have now come back & started working the T-spine drills. Food for thought.

  • helen Oct 2, 2009 @ 20:13

    Hey Geoff
    just a thought
    remember in one of your thursday interviews said you don’t train the people doing the same thing they are in training for?
    Well, here’s a suggestion for you in the same vein..
    instead of beating yourself up about your fab body.. how’s about belly dancing?
    i think Neena& Veena have this cool video to learn (so no one will know!) – then you isolate hip muscles etc etc.. I have it and pull it out every so often coz my hips etc have other ideas too… 🙂

  • Mark Snow, RKC Oct 2, 2009 @ 21:46

    Great post Geoff! Well spoken and said. I have my brocolli as well, my shoulder and thoracic mobility. When I slack on that, I pay the price.

  • Max Shank Oct 3, 2009 @ 3:08

    The proof is in the pudding.
    I have been doing LOTS of STRICT get-ups with the 16 kilo bell and everything feels better.
    I also just hit a PR on a lift I haven’t performed in many months.
    I like the broccoli, it makes me feel soooooo good.

  • Betsy Collie, RKC II Oct 3, 2009 @ 3:51

    Ok here comes the thorn in your side…. I love broccoli and so do my kids. In fact it is the only veg I can get them to eat… my take on this is that the get up while it builds strength total strength throughout the body also builds mobility or calls you out on your lack of mobility. I come from a dance background. The get up came easier to me. Partly due to the fact that I had no previous major injuries. You on the other hand do… So it IS harder for you. Go figure… so what do you do? Train within your limitations…. it is that simple… A lesson for all of us to learn…. As we all know strength cannot come with out mobility….

  • Betsy Collie, RKC II Oct 3, 2009 @ 4:00

    oh Ps and Tomatoes…. even though they are technically a fruit! Give them a try.,… you’ll be glad you did…

  • WalterP Oct 6, 2009 @ 0:23

    Geoff, also I have found when I started seriously working on flexibility that I was weak up to a certain point in all areas. In other words, sometimes we skip certain things because we think we are “okay” in that area. My lower back started giving me serious problems about two years ago and I can say it was the worst pain I have ever felt. Chiros and inversion didn’t help and started making it worse because I didn’t address not just the lack of flexibility but the lack of strength in the stretches. I don’t know if you have had surgery on your hip but I wonder what trying the getup with only bodyweight and a lot of tension versus any kettlebell would do.

  • GEOFFN Oct 6, 2009 @ 1:41

    Randy – I see what you mean with that back leg thing, but that position actually makes things worse for me. I really have to unload the back leg and load the snot out of the front leg, driving hard into the toes…

    Walter – I’d film it, but it’s really not that important to me – yet… As far as control, I really focus on that – if I don’t, I can’t get up pain free.

    Joe – Good point – I need to get with Brett or take a quick trip up to VA to see Gray…

    Max – Yeah, I saw that – cool.

  • Josh Oct 6, 2009 @ 7:43

    I think that your description of Dan Gable’s health problems is very important. We are exercising for HEALTH. We are not professional athletes. You can get too much of a good thing, i.e. doing the same good exercises all the time, and exclusively, can definately cause overuse injuries over the long run. That is the down side of Pavel’s minimalist training philosophy.

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